Dairymaster enters €2m partnership to develop artificial intelligence tech for farmers

Aim is to make it easier for farmers to manage herds

Dr John Daly (left), Dairymaster research and innovation manager; Prof Edmond Harty, Dairymaster chief executive; and Dr Joseph Walsh, Lero researcher and head of the school of Stem at IT Tralee. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

Dr John Daly (left), Dairymaster research and innovation manager; Prof Edmond Harty, Dairymaster chief executive; and Dr Joseph Walsh, Lero researcher and head of the school of Stem at IT Tralee. Photograph: Domnick Walsh

 

Irish dairy equipment manufacturer Dairymaster has entered a €2 million partnership to develop intelligent autonomous systems for farmers.

The research and development programme with IT Tralee and Limerick-based software research centre Lero aims to ease the workload for farmers by collecting data on herds and presenting it in a manageable way.

Dr John Daly, Dairymaster’s research and innovation manager, outlined that with average herd sizes of between 100 and 200 cows, farmers cannot examine each individual cow on a daily basis.

“As farms get larger and the labour available on farms gets less and less, you’ve one person running this business and they have to be an expert in equipment, in animal science, and the like.

“This is to help the farmers do all of that and to take away some of the effort in making all these decisions,” Mr Daly said.

As a result of the investment a team of researchers will be hired to work with Lero and Dairymaster’s research and development teams.

Skilled labour

Dr Joseph Walsh of IT Tralee noted that one of the key challenges for the dairy industry is the availability of skilled labour. “Automating labour intensive processes will not only be hugely beneficial to the farmer, but will also enhance animal health and milk quality by ensuring tasks are completed to consistently high levels,” he said.

The 3½-year project also aims to use data analytics to boost dairy farm productivity. “We see this whole area of artificial intelligence and autonomous systems as being key to the future of dairy farm profitability and sustainability,” Dr Daly concluded.

Dairymaster employs 350 people and exports to 40 countries. The Kerry-headquartered group, led by Prof Edmond Harty, was the winner of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year programme in 2012.